May 28, 2013

Sewing with Slinky

Or should I say 'fitting with Slinky'?

I just designed and sewed this black Slinky Tank Top.

If you read the last post, you'll know I never wear sleeveless tops/dresses, so I stitched up this diagonal hemmed cardigan to go over top of it.
And if you've ever sewn with Slinky, you know it can present some stretching, fitting and sewing problems...or should I call them 'issues'?

Slinky is an elastic acetate knit.  It's available in different weights and stretch and is sometimes combined with spandex to help eliminate the bagging that can occur.  It is really soft and comfortable to wear, has a supple hand and really drapes well.

For the pattern design, keep it simple with few design lines, minimal seaming, elastic casings, loose sleeves or sleeveless.  Avoid real close fitted styles.

Let me pass on some tips on working with Slinky.
1.  Pre-treat Slinky in cold/warm water (no bleach) and throw it in the dryer - cool/warm temp.  When washing after wearing, wash in cold  water and line dry.
2. You can definitely sized down your pattern at least 1- 2 dots in all circumference areas.  Everything is going to stretch - both horizontally and vertically - so you're likely safe to 'dot-down' at all points on the SFD master pattern.
3.  Add 5/8" seam allowances.  This width will make it easier to handle.  Then after you've basted and adjusted the fit, serge/trim to 1/4" allowance.
4. When cutting, make sure that none of the fabric hangs off the cutting table.  It will definitely stretch out of shape.
5.  Treat Slinky as a napped or one-way fabric with all pieces headed in the same direction.
6. Cut with extremely sharp fabric shears or rotary cutter.
7.  Decide which side you want as the 'right' side and mark with a visible marking pencil or place a piece of plastic tape on the 'wrong' side and write 'wrong' on the tape.
8.  Use a 'walking foot'.
9.  Test sewing on remnants.  Stitch horizontally, vertically and diagonally.  Use long embroidery pins.  Since the fabric does not feed evenly, stop periodically, raise the presser foot, smooth the fabric then continue stitching.
10.  Baste - baste - baste with the longest stitch possible!  Test the fit.  There is no way to gauge how much your Slinky is going to stretch vertically or horizontally until you put it on.  Adjust the fit to your comfort level.  If the Slinky is a very dark color, baste with a bright contrasting color thread.  It will make it much easier to pick out.
11.  Always stitch directionally i.e. from the hem up.
12.  Then when you are satisfied, to complete the seams use a long straight stitch but not necessarily a stretch stitch, trim or serge/overlock the seams.
13.  If you're sewing pants, the length of the crotch seam WILL stretch vertically.  Stabilize with a narrow flat, clear elastic as you stitch the seam.  This allows the seam to have a little give, but not stretch excessively.  Shoulders, necklines and long side seams can also be stabilized with clear, flat elastic.
14.  To bind the neck and armhole edges, as I have done on this tank top, cut the ribbing and binding strips on the crossgrain approximately 25-30% shorter than the edge to be finished.
15.  Hemming.  They say you can use fusible webbing, but I couldn't get mine to 'melt' and adhere the 2 layers together, so I simply top-stitched the hem in place.  But since Slinky isn't going to ravel, you could just cut and leave the hem as a raw edge.

These tips should help you out on your next Slinky project.

May 21, 2013

Sheer Experience Revisited

Back in September 2012, I blogged about my experiences of sewing with a sheer fabric.  If you want to check out what I said then, click here.

Now I'd like to share with you my recent 'Sheer Experience'.  The same details from the first article still apply, but this time I DIDN'T LINE THE DICKENS OUT OF IT!

I needed a new ‘something’ to go over top of a sleeveless tank top.  (I next to NEVER wear anything sleeveless for numerous vain reasons).  And my girl friend had sent me bundles of this red, black and white floral sheer.  Sheers are the other thing I’d likely not buy or wear comfortably.  But here it was (the gift of a netting type of sheer fabric) and I’d just completed the black slinky tank top as a style example for the hands-on bodice fitting classes.  Kelly, my office assistant, took one look at the sheer and suggested I sew the diagonal hem cardigan to go over it.  This is actually Style #4 in Beyond Bodice Basics, and I added sleeves to the design.  What a perfect suggestion!

Here are the finished garments:

 This is the 'Slinky Tank Top'.

Front View – Diagonal Hemmed Cardigan in the floral sheer

Back View - Diagonal Hemmed Cardigan

¾ Length Sleeve with 4” of shirring in the center of the sleeve

Close-up of the shawl style of collar

Close-up of the sheer floral pattern.  Notice the 'white wall' through the fabric.  It takes on a totally different appearance with white behind it rather than the black slinky tank top.

Hemming was easy!  Since this sheer net fabric wouldn’t ravel or fray, I left the cut hem edges untreated.  This again is something I wouldn’t generally think of doing, but numerous tests including clean finishing, zigzagged edge, serged edge and the rolled edge all proved unsuitable for this sheer netting that had many diagonal edges.  All of these techniques simply pulled the edge out of shape.  Thank goodness my friend sent lots of yardage – I needed it for these tests.

Here’s what Style #4 from Beyond Bodice Basics looks like minus the sleeves.  Fabric choice sure makes an impact as we all know.